Spatiotemporal trends of urban heat island effect along the urban development intensity gradient in China
Urban heat island (UHI) represents a major anthropogenic modification to the Earth system and its relationship
with urban development is poorly understood at a regional scale. Using AquaMODIS data and LandsatTM/ETM+
images, we examined the spatiotemporal trends of the UHI effect (ΔT, relative to the rural reference) along the
urban development intensity (UDI) gradient in 32 major Chinese cities from 2003 to 2012. We found that the
daytime and nighttime ΔT increased significantly (p b 0.05, mostly in linear form) along a rising UDI for 27
and 30 out of 32 cities, respectively. More rapid increases were observed in the southeastern and northwestern
parts of China in the day and night, respectively. Moreover, the ΔT trends differed greatly by season and during
daytime in particular. The ΔT increased more rapidly in summer than in winter during the day and the reverse
occurred at night for most cities. Inter-annually, the ΔT increased significantly in about one-third of the cities
during both the day and night times from 2003 to 2012, especially in suburban areas (0.25 b UDI ≤ 0.5), with insignificant
trends being observed for most of the remaining cities.We also found that the ΔT patterns along the UDI
gradient were largely controlled by local climate-vegetation conditions, while that across years were dominated
by human activities. Our results highlight the strong and highly diverse urbanization effects on local climate cross
China and offer limitations on how these certain methods should be used to quantify UHI intensity over large
areas. Furthermore, the impacts of urbanization on climate are complex, thus future research efforts should focus
more toward direct observation and physical-based modeling to make credible predictions of the effects.
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